Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Autumn 2016’s Greatest Hits

It seems a shame to let all these pretty pictures go unshared and unremarked. Kick back and breathe in the beauty of this special season, as seen in a small town in the one and only San Luis Valley.

A lovely, regal sign—three miles east outside of the town proper. Wishful thinking? As frustrating as small town life is here sometimes, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the place getting this big.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how long the leaves have lasted on the trees at 7,600 feet in elevation. A week’s worth of afternoon windstorms in mid-October stripped most of the trees in my yard, but, unlike Anchorage, AK, where all is bare by October 1, or even Colorado Springs, where the leaves are stripped well before Halloween, we’ve had a few trees hang onto their color well into November.

I’m told that the temperate nature of this autumn is an aberration, that we should have had our first snow in Monte Vista by now. I’m not complaining, as I’m not looking forward to a month’s worth of -30 F temperatures, which is a very real possibility over the winter. We’re busy enough plugging every last hole, caulking every last seam, so we can better tolerate nights in the 20s F. We ran up the credit card getting the fireplace functional, and a wood pellet stove installed.

I love to see how some of these other people do it in their better-kept, older homes. People have been making it happen out here since the late 19th century, and mine isn’t the only pile built shortly after the beginning of the 20th. I’m sure it isn’t the oldest one still in use.

I particularly like the stone exterior and metal roof on this little jewel.

You’ll notice the color is spotty throughout. Some haven’t changed, some are yellowing, others are good to shed. Each and every tree runs on its own schedule.

Pretty as it is, I haven’t walked through here since I took these photos. This is not like my place in north Colorado Springs, where I enjoyed a route that largely depended upon greenbelt. I’d go up some steps here, down a hill there, come around a corner, and see the Front Range in a way I’ve never seen, because of the various lensing effects of the atmosphere, and the clouds above and around the slopes.

As I’ve complained early and often here before, it’s flat, flat, FLAT in the San Luis Valley. The town is called Monte Vista, as in “Mountain View,” but the only views you get in town are those of other people’s houses. If you’re out on the west side, you at least have the trees to go with them.

The real views are from the far ends of town, and even then, the mountains are far away on either side.
The San Juan Mountains, as (barely) seen from the far west side of Monte Vista.

The Sangre de Cristos, as seen from several miles to the east of town, by the “Welcome to Monte Vista” sign at the top of the post.

Sometimes I can see what I think is Green Ridge from my office window, depending on the air that day. And I do have a few trees where I am on the more squalid side of town.

Of course, they’re nothing like what’s on the west side of Broadway. Which is another reason I don’t walk as much anymore: I hate being reminded I’m on the not-so-great part of town. I’d just as soon cocoon up in my upstairs office, and I’ll get my kicks when I drive out to Alamosa or Del Norte for whatever.
The trees beyond the stoplight say it all. The side from which I’m taking this picture is a mix of abandoned buildings and assorted storefronts.

It’s funny how that works. The only time I feel grateful to be living in the San Luis Valley is when I’m blazing down US 160 in the 65 mph zone, where I can see the mountains all around. Spudville is just a place to lay my head and work at getting my writing groove back. 
Even through a dirty windshield there’s a sense of the epic.

Which is just as well. Even in Colorado Springs, after a while I didn’t bother leaving my basement office unless I absolutely had to, or to take my three mile walks. It is what it is. Could be worse. Could be better.

We had a fine October. I’ll take it.